Earlier this week I had the idea to compare two wine from ALKO which were close to each other in many aspects: they are made from the same grape, they cost the same and they are more or less made the same way. These wines were two Malbecs.
They were Malbec Reserva 2009 by Viña Montes and Malbec 2010 by Alamos.
It is indeed sad that the vintage was not the same but it is less a concern as when it comes to « old world » wines. The big, the main difference between the two is geographical. Viña Montes is a prominent Chilean winery, located in the Colchagua Valley. Their Icon wine is Clos Apalta, a wine that is often awarded outstanding marks by English-speaking magazines. Alamos is a winery located in Argentina, Mendoza and is connected to the prestigious Catena Zapata winery. They can arguably be considered as one of the very best winemakers of whole Argentina. Basically, we have in front of us the entry level of two of the best wineries of South America.
My opinion about these wine producers, I shall give you right now. I really love the work done by the Catena family. They work quite in the old world way, stressing on terroir and trying to make wines that are true to their origins. Also these are wines not designed to be award winers, with for instance a clever management of the ripening process and a reasonable use of oak. I cannot but advise you to taste, at least once, the top wines from this estate. On the contrary Montes wines are much more modern. They are very demonstrative, concentrated fruit bombs. Always on the top in wine tasting panels (when you taste without food), they tend to be very awkward on a table. The reasons for that is a choice to pick extremely ripe fruit and make an extensive use of new oak (both French and American). As a result these are often wines that will blow you mind with the first glass and then get you bored or tired because of their lack of balance.
The confrontation was very interesting. First, Montes:
The Malbec Reserva 2009 by Montes is a little big wine. Little because this is not the top range wine but big by the mouthfeel. In the nose, it is very ripe dark fruit, almost jammy. There is a strong oaky dominant: cacao, vanilla and a touch of coco. The wine is far more pleasant than 6 month ago. In the mouth we are struck by the alcohol level and the residual sugar (maybe 3-4 g/l). The wine displays little awkwardness and is not so great in the long term. However it was much better after 6 to 12h opening. The main difficulty with this wine will be to find a good pairing. It will go along many meals but it will not be perfect with any.
Wineops rating: 64/100 ; 0 0 (69/100 after 6h)
Overall the Alamos Malbec 2010 proved to be much more balanced. The nose presented a dominant of fresh red fruit underlined by a nice vegetal touch. Mouth was fresh and balanced, completely dry and with very pleasant tannins. It is a good and food friendly wine. It will fit well with grilled meat and stew. On the opposite of the Montes, it did not improve after opening. In my opinion this is a prefect example of the connexion between a grape and a location. Mendoza definitely IS the place for Malbec whereas Chile is just a possible match.
Wineops rating: 70/100 ; 0 0